* European shares seen likely to edge slightly down at open
* Euro firm in wake of ECB decision to stand pat
* Investors await U.S. jobs report; 149,000 increase
* Oil holds daily gains as Ukraine/Russia concerns persist
By Lisa Twaronite and Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, March 7 Asian stocks rose on Friday,
buoyed by Wall Street's gains the previous day, but investors
remained cautious ahead of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report
later in the session.
European shares were seen edging down at the open, but big
moves were viewed as unlikely as investors awaited the U.S. jobs
Financial spreadbetters predicted Britain's FTSE 100
would open flat to 8 points lower, or down as much as 0.12
percent; Germany's DAX was seen falling 3 to 15 points,
or as much as 0.16 percent; and France's CAC 40 was
expected to open 1 to 4 points lower, or down as much as 0.09
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
was up about 0.3 percent, on track for a weekly
gain of more than 1 percent. Tokyo's Nikkei stock average
ended 0.9 percent higher at its highest closing level
since Jan. 29, logging a 2.9 percent weekly gain.
In addition to the U.S. jobs figures, market participants
warily watched developments in the Ukraine/Russia standoff.
Even as anxiety about an immediate conflict lessened
compared to the start of the week, Crimea's parliament voted on
Thursday to join Russia, and its Moscow-backed government set a
referendum in 10 days.
"Fears of another flare-up in Ukraine and the associated
carnage meted out last Monday may keep traders cautious going
into the weekend and subsequently cap any gains," Jonathan
Sudaria, a dealer at London Capital Group, said in a note to
Friday's main focus was the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report,
which was forecast to show an increase of around 149,000 in
February, according to a Reuters survey of economists, up from
the weather-depressed gains of 113,000 in January and 75,000 in
Market watchers said some expectations may have been lowered
by the soft ADP private-sector jobs report, and by the ISM
services sector survey released earlier this week.
"The market could treat the consensus figure of about
150,000 jobs as a positive surprise. Considering the severe
winter conditions, a number through to 120,000 may not be
considered a letdown," said Ayako Sera, senior market economist
at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust in Tokyo.
The dollar fetched 102.96 yen, having broken above
the 103 yen threshold on Thursday for the first time since late
January. It pulled away from this week's low of 101.20 yen hit
A solid U.S. nonfarm payrolls report would help the
greenback consolidate its position above 103 yen but
participants will be wary of pushing too hard as the crisis in
Ukraine appears to be far from over, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust's
The dollar index, which weighs the dollar against a
basket of major currencies, was at 79.659, after skidding as low
as 79.590, its lowest since late October, in wake of the euro's
The euro remained near the previous session's highs
following the European Central Bank's decision not to ease
The ECB's decision on Thursday to stand pat pushed the euro
to its highest level since late December. It was steady
in Asia at $1.3860, after rising as high as $1.3873 on the EBS
trading platform following the ECB's announcement.
The euro also remained firm against the Japanese currency,
buying 142.71 yen after touching 142.99 yen earlier on
Friday, its highest since Jan. 10.
In emerging currencies, China's yuan continued to
recover from a drastic slide in the recent weeks as the central
bank fixed its midpoint firmer.
China's money rates slid this week despite fears that the
country may suffer its first public corporate bond default, with
traders saying the government's behaviour implies it might be
abandoning its earlier tightening policy.
On the commodity front, gold traded near a four-month
peak, nearly steady on the day at $1,349.66 per ounce. It got a
lift on Thursday when the ECB's decision dented the dollar and
increased bullion's currency-hedge appeal.
In a reminder of the geopolitical risk from the
Ukraine/Crimea crisis, U.S. crude oil futures added about 0.3
percent to $101.91 a barrel, as the market watched for
any disruption of oil and gas supply from Russia to Europe.
Brent also rose about 0.3 percent to $108.47 a
barrel. But both benchmarks were on track to end the week down,
with Brent heading for a second straight weekly decline and the
U.S. contract for its first drop in eight weeks.